Introduction to VetMedAcademy
Our Story: VetMedAcademy (VMA)
VetMedAcademy.org (https://www.vetmedacademy.org) is a non-profit organization dedicated to curation, development and global sharing of veterinary curricular content. VMA recognizes that the nature of general education had been transformed by the arrival of student-centered video learning resources. Accordingly, it seeks to emphasize the creation of learning modules designed for veterinary students highlighting short videos, together with targeted reading, and formative quizzes with feedback, organized on its customized Moodle platform, the most widely used open-source learning management system in the world. VMA makes most of those resources available for free or low cost on this system and its YouTube channel. All resources can be re-packaged and adapted for use onsite or on a university learning management as long as the instructor adheres to Creative Commons Attribution standards, acknowledging the content author and VetMedAcademy.
Mission: Creation and Curation of Resources for Self-Study, Review, and Blended Classroom with an Emphasis on Critical Clinical Thinking
VMA’s founders have engaged in both pre-clinical and clinical education, onsite and online at the veterinary and veterinary technician level for over 30 years. From this experience, the following guiding principles for its learning modules have been developed:
1) Pre-clinical topics need to be presented in a clinically relevant context.
2) Students forget, necessitating content on a platform reviewed and updated by experienced educators facilitating just-in-time learning or review.
3) Students need early curriculum practice and guidance at developing as clinical problem-solvers understanding the principles of evidence-based medicine. VMA recognizes that this is the best left to faculty face-to-face instruction, so the ideal learning module suggests critical clinical thinking exercises applicable to pre-clinical periods of training.
4) Learning modules on VMA are designed to make the trial of blended learning less daunting. By providing a training module entitled “Blended Learning and Critical Thinking,” and encouraging co-development of materials with faculty members, VMA seeks to help faculty realize the affordances of a blended learning approach.
5) International emphasis and where possible, multilingual. Exemplified by our Spanish pharmacology series, content experts around the world are encouraged to prepare learning materials in their own language.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT VETMEDACADEMY
(our elevator "speeches")
VetMedAcademy seeks to develop or curate veterinary educational information that is short, usually highlighting short video linked to study and review questions, as well as relevant weblinks, readings, and relevant clinical exercises focused to critical clinical thinking (problem-solving). All are searchable within the Moodle learning management system. Students may use the resources for supplemental initial study to supplement their curricula, or as review when they are at more advanced stages of the curriculum. Faculty may utilize the resources as a way of jumpstarting their approach to using blended learning and a more interactive style in their face-to-face classroom.
No. VetMedAcademy seeks to amplify cooperation between content experts within and outside of academia, leveraging their unique insight to focus on, in particular, the relevant aspects of pre-clinical education. VetMedAcademy seeks mainly to help bring the concept many might identify with Khan Academy to veterinary medicine, that is open educational resources made available as Creative Commons Attribution educational resources. As such, VetMedAcademy hopes faculty will use its platform as a way of publishing their creativity as teachers, knowing that others will recognize them for it. Let there not be another wheel be reinvented!
Why? VetMedAcademy seeks to remain free to veterinary and animal health students around the world. It recognizes that students and faculty around the world have access to educational resources of variable quantity and quality. It seeks, in a small way, to level the "playing field."
How? It isn't easy! However, VetMedAcademy seeks volunteer educators and coordinators just like any non-profit. And because everything costs money, it encourages a low-cost informal model of video development, and it uses open-source platforms for its learning management system (Moodle) and for its web portal (Drupal). VMA is constantly seeking grants, sponsors, in-kind content partners, and individual donations. All support helps, and is essential! It really "takes a village."
Firstly, there are many examples of educational resources (continuing education) for clinical level and graduate veterinarians, but very few for students in their pre-clinical years, topics including physiology, anatomy, histology, neurobiology, immunology, microbiology, anatomic and clinical pathology, and pharmacology. Also, students unfortunately often see these “basic” sciences as “hurdles” that are less relevant to their careers. VetMedAcademy believes that by making “bridges” from the pre-clinical to the clinical content, the relevance of these topics is more easily apparent, and that case examples aimed to emphasize such content can improve motivation for study and improved long-term retention.
Teaching resources are often described in educational journals, but the resources themselves are usually harder to come by and may not be fully reviewed. VetMedAcademy has initially grown in topical areas where content experts have committed to finding (curating), reviewing the quality (editing) and/or creating relevant content. So, if you see a topical area where you could contribute content or provide editorial support in any way, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may not feel like you can make the commitment of a content editor described in #5. However, VetMedAcademy seeks contributions of content or time that are small or large. Whether an individual video or a series of content lessons associated with a full learning module, VetMedAcademy encourages the Creative Commons Attribution model of use. Basically, the educational resource is provided for use and modification by other instructors with the expectation that the originator of the resource will be given attribution to initial development of the content. Our hope is that this approach encourages faculty to “publish” their teaching resources while facilitating the re-use of these resources by another faculty member. We hope that this encourages the local instructor to focus attention on ways to engage and interact with their students. Faculty or other content experts might also be interested in developing an interactive course focused on a specific topic like the bootcamps. Email us at email@example.com f you would like to explore this or similar possibilities for a fee-based course. Please see #7 for details.
Veterinary School Bootcamps, started in 2019, are designed for students entering a given year of instruction, and serve to provide an introduction to an example of the content of the topic, but more importantly use this content to introduce students to the discipline and approach one needs to be successful in this subject. Most often, the strategy used by instructors is to demonstrate the clinical relevance of “pre-clinical” or “basic science” topic by using clinical case examples and exercises, with feedback provided to the student. Bootcamp course resources are left open to the registrant for the entire following academic year so they might help support the student’s study of the subject matter in their own school’s curriculum. Nonetheless, anyone may register for these in-depth resources at any time during the year to follow.
Why is a fee associated with these courses? Well, they have become an important fund-raiser for the overall mission of VetMedAcademy. However, to date, these courses are the only ones on VetMedAcademy designed with a period of interactive asynchronous instruction by the developing instructors. As a result, a nominal fee is charged for the development and support of the course.
VetMedAcademy seeks to provide instructional resources in multiple languages. Its Moodle learning management system allows multiple languages to be used for its operating system. However, as with other initiatives on VMA, expanding offerings in other languages requires dedicated and knowledgeable leadership with the requisite language skills. VetMedAcademy has begun with Spanish language resources, and to a smaller extent, German resources. If interested in supporting these or other language instructional resources, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to key content partnerships, a VetMedAcademy membership comes along with the following:
1. Links to the broad resources of the Merck Veterinary Manual and modules in pharmacology and zoonoses with unique animated video content sponsored by Merck Veterinary Manual.
2. Modules like “Brief Pre-Clinical Bridges” and “Clinician’s Case Rounds” which directly connect to content from Clinician’s Brief.
3. Full PDF textbooks from Vet-Library.com. VetMedAcademy is an institutional subscriber meaning that you have immediate access to ~100 full-text PDF books, but also can request any others from https://vet-library.com to be added to the VetMedAcademy database.
VetMedAcademy seeks to continue to provide its resources at now or little cost to students and faculty around the world. We feel that students should play an important role in helping to identify and create such resources also. They also know which faculty might have the most to contribute to VetMedAcademy’s mission. Furthermore, we seek students interested in helping with recruitment and support of other users, social media outreach, or review of module content for utility and functionality. If you have web programming skills particularly with Drupal or Moodle platforms, we may have a part-time job for you!
Anyone interested in helping with this mission should email email@example.com.
There are several ways faculty might utilize resources on VetMedAcademy. Let’s start with the simpler and then move to the more complex ways.
1. Simply have students sign up for VetMedAcademy to access the dozen and growing “open” modules, and avail themselves of the common resources described in #9.
2. Bring selected VMA resources to your learning management system. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire how to obtain a package of such resources.
3. Arrange a direct “LTI” link from your learning management system to a course resource on VetMedAcademy. This would most likely require agreement and cooperation from your institution’s instructional technology staff.
4. With intention to develop a customized learning experience utilizing VMA resources for your students, request an institutionally dedicated learning module to be developed. Please email email@example.com to inquire about details.
Maintaining a free service for academic users around the world, VMA seeks financial contributions, large and small, from users or benefactors. We estimate that just the access of one member to its platforms costs ~$50 (U.S.) per year. We’d rather not have a mandatory subscription fee. Even donating this amount is of enormous benefit to allowing services to continue for less-fortunate members. Furthermore, in order to grow content of value to its learner members, we need to pay for some of that content. And unique content like an animated video requires hours of preparation. Our costs for a ~10 minute animated video is about $3,000. If you find these resources helpful, help us support them in any manner you can afford. Any donations are welcome and help sustain VMA’s mission. Learn more about donating via Paypal at the following link: https://vetmedacademy.org/donations.